Shopping is one thing that can be interesting on a remote tropical island in a developing country. There is the deli at the social club that sells meat (frozen), fresh fruit and veggies (usually imported from Australia) and some staples such as cereal, milk (all UHT), cheese and some other basics (all imported from Aus). Everything at the deli is in limited supply. The town of Londolovit has two supermarkets – Papindos and Best Buy; as well as daily markets. I’ve discovered the added bonus of buying fresh fruit from the Haus Meris (house maids) who sell it door to door. So far I’ve bought beautiful sweet bananas, and a pawpaw that is sitting on my bench ripening up, for the bargain price of K5 each (about $2.50).
So two supermarkets, not so bad, right? Well… they’re an experience, that’s for sure. Both have the delightful aroma of concentrated humanity sweating in a hot shed. Both supermarkets go for the convenience of having everything you need to buy in the one place – groceries, clothing, toys, hardware, stationery, mobile phones and tablets, machetes. Best Buy even has a pharmacy inside. There’s the astounding variety of canned meat – I never knew so many brands or types existed, including canned goose. There’s the interesting placement of the dishwasher tablets in the sauces and vinegar aisle. Logical to someone, obviously. If you need to buy MSG by the kilo, you’re in luck! And pasta, rice and flour even comes with bonus added protein, still moving so you know it’s the real deal. I mean, what more could you want? Pretty much most things you might want to buy, actually. Oil comes in either ‘vegetable’ or ‘peanut’. And chocolate is just not here. The deli sells Mars Bars and Chokitos, but that’s it.
So yesterday I grabbed a ride into Londo with a neighbour and hit the shops. And joy of absolute joys, a container of Black & Gold products had landed on the island. You know, the things you usually walk past thinking “I’m not buying that crap”. After only 3 weeks here I went slightly crazy in there. You can only imagine the joy felt by long term residents! I filled my trolley with olive oil, paper towels, icing mixture and compound cooking chocolate. It tastes like crap, but it’s chocolate!
A quick visit to the market rounded out the trip, where I found bargain avocados (3 for K5), and purchased a beautiful hand made bilum, as I had packed all my useful handbags on the container. Isobel was the star of the show at the market, with everyone calling out “hello baby” and talking to her. Her charming personality shone out as she fixed them with a death stare and replied with “I not a baby, I a big girl”!